They used to swim and play on the beach in northern Gaza. Now these children are wondering if they’ll ever return home

Published: 2 months ago

Reading time: 3 minutes

Children make up half of Gaza’s population. As the death toll in Israeli attacks surpasses 30,000, they’re facing unimaginable violence and loss.

The Devastating Impact of War on Children in Gaza

The story of Mohammed Hamouda and his family provides a heartbreaking glimpse into the lives of Palestinian children in Gaza, who have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict. Before the war, the Hamouda family enjoyed simple pleasures like strolling along the beaches of northern Gaza and spending time with relatives in their home in Beit Lahia. Their children, Ella, Sila, and Kareem, cherished these moments, swimming, eating ice cream, and riding camels on the shoreline.

However, the sound of laughter has been replaced by the terrifying noise of Israeli strikes raining down on Gaza. Mohammed Hamouda and his wife, Dina, now find themselves constantly by their children's side, trying to alleviate their fear. The children keep asking when they can go back home, but the heartbreaking reality is that their house in Beit Lahia was destroyed, leaving them displaced and homeless.

The devastating loss has taken a toll on the children's emotional well-being. Ella, the eldest at six years old, was devastated by the loss of their home and friends. She longs for her room, her toys, and the school where she used to go, but the war has disrupted her education. The destruction caused by Israeli airstrikes has demolished family homes, razed neighborhoods, and turned parts of Gaza into a wasteland. The Hamouda family, like many others, fears they will have nowhere left to flee.

The dire situation in Gaza extends beyond the loss of homes and disrupted education. The blockade imposed by Israel has already led to a shorter life expectancy for Palestinians in Gaza compared to their Israeli counterparts, with high rates of neonatal, infant, and maternal mortality. Now, the war has exacerbated the suffering of young people in Gaza, subjecting them to violence, homelessness, starvation, and disruptions to their education.

Many children have been orphaned, while others live in constant fear of losing their parents to Israeli strikes. They have been forced to leave behind their days of playing with friends and going to school, instead enduring the hardships of forced displacement from one shelter to another. Parents and caregivers struggle to explain the war to children who are psychologically scarred by the relentless bombardment.

The numbers are staggering and heartbreaking. Israeli attacks in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of over 30,000 Palestinians, including over 12,550 children. On average, almost 90 children per day have been killed since the war began. The toll on children's physical and mental health is devastating, with many sustaining life-altering injuries and experiencing trauma and psychological distress.

The situation is further exacerbated by the severe shortage of medical resources and aid caused by Israel's bombardment and restrictions. Hospitals in Gaza are unable to provide life-saving treatment to the wounded, including children and infants. The lack of access to proper healthcare has added to the suffering of the population, including children with disabilities who require specialized care.

Forced displacement has led to insecurity, hunger, and a lack of basic necessities. Children like Ayas, who was disabled and lived in an orphanage, died due to the inability to access essential medication. The war has also resulted in a triple threat to children in Gaza: the dangers of war, malnutrition, and disease. The bombardment and restrictions have severely diminished food and water supplies, exposing the entire population to the risk of famine.

The war has robbed children in Gaza of their education. School buildings have been directly hit, with nearly four-fifths of school buildings across the strip damaged and at least 26 destroyed. Over 625,000 students are left without a safe place to continue their education. Teachers and students have been killed by Israeli strikes, further compounding the loss and disruption.

The impact on children's mental health is devastating. The number of children in need of mental health support has doubled since the war began. Children are experiencing symptoms such as bedwetting, nightmares, separation anxiety, fear of leaving the house, and avoidance of social situations. The psychological trauma inflicted on them has never been seen to this extent in previous conflicts.

Parents in Gaza feel helpless, unable to protect their children from the reality of war. They struggle to provide the help their children need, as resources are limited. Mohammed Hamouda fears losing his children's souls to the horrors of war and the possibility of long-lasting disabilities. He dreams of a day when his children can live a normal life, like children elsewhere in the world.

The situation in Gaza is a tragic reminder of the devastating impact of war on innocent children. Urgent action is needed to bring an end to the violence and provide the necessary support and resources to alleviate the suffering of children in Gaza.


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